ABS-CBN Corp. and Sky Cable Corp. posted a counter bond amounting to P659 million to protect their assets and convince a local court to lift a garnishment order in connection with the collection complaint filed by content partner Solar Entertainment Corp.
Solar Entertainment Corp. of the Tieng family said in a statement Thursday ABS-CBN and affiliate SkyCable, two companies led by the Lopez family, posted the bond so that the Mandaluyong regional trial court would lift the asset attachment and garnishment against them.
The court earlier issued an order to garnish the bank accounts and other assets of ABS-CBN and SkyCable for allegedly airing the BTV and NBA Premium TV channels of Solar Entertainment without paying the carriage fees for three years.
“We have a bank certification showing we effectively garnished P659 million of their deposits on May 26. With the counter bond, Solar is now assured of getting paid when, not if, it wins in the courts,” said lawyer Enrique Dela Cruz Jr. of Divina Law Office, Solar’s external counsel.
The garnishment order came after ABS-CBN allegedly failed to pay carriage fees for airing NBA channels owned by Solar. “For ABS-CBN to claim it considered that it was allowed to air the BTV and NBA Premium channels owned by Solar for free was a shallow legal pretext to unjustly enrich oneself. This is fraud plain and simple,” Dela Cruz said.
“The fact that they continued to air the channels and earn advertising revenues despite non-payment of Solar’s billings since 2014 sums up the case. They made Solar believe they would pay, that is why Solar kept feeding them its channels,” he said.
ABS-CBN and Sky Cable earlier said they signed a license agreement with NBA Properties Inc. in 2014. “Since ABS-CBN was paying 60 percent of the license fees, it considered that the same already covered the carriage fees of Sky Cable. Unfortunately, Solar disagreed. Despite the good faith attempts of ABS-CBN and Sky Cable to resolve the dispute amicably, Solar cut off the NBA feed to SkyCable and filed this complaint,” ABS-CBN said.
Dela Cruz said if Sky Cable really believed it had the right to free-ride on Solar’s channels, “how come it continued to pay Solar until March 2015 for the airing of the same channels on Destiny and Unicable, which SkyCable owns?”
Solar finally pulled the plug and discontinued its feed to Sky Cable, ABS-CBN’s cable station, in April, he said.
“It is obvious that Solar owns the channels, and Sky Cable and ABS-CBN have to pay for usage. That is why Solar can cut them off at any time,” Dela Cruz said.
He said Solar had the exclusive rights to air NBA in the Philippines since 2010. In 2014, Solar allowed ABS-CBN to be part of the joint license agreement with NBA for limited airing rights, such as the right to air NBA games only on its free-TV channels, he said.
“SkyCable was never mentioned in the contract. Solar’s ownership of the BTV and NBA Premium channels remained. Again, under the contract, ABS-CBN was allowed to air NBA games only on Channel 2, its Sports + Action channel, and a pay TV that it has yet to develop,” Dela Cruz said.
“Sky Cable, just like Cignal and Dream now, can only carry Solar’s channels for a fee,” he said.
Dela Cruz said if ABS-CBN “considers” that “it can air what it does not own and make money at the same time by using a third party that has no right, then ABS-CBN is clearly a shrewd and cunning company that takes advantage of small media players.”